Judge tells Uber not to use Waymo files

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The self-driving auto company alleged that Uber had infringed USA patent numbers 8,836,922; 9,368,936; 9,285,464; and 9,086,273, all of which concern LiDAR technology.

The agreement suggests Waymo is unlikely to renew its relationship with Uber, which turned tumultuous after Alphabet showed interest in developing its own ride-hailing service. The two companies will work together to develop products and tech for autonomous vehicles, using their combined resources to compete with ridehailing powerhouse Uber.

The ruling means Uber will be able to continue testing its self-driving cars, but without any meaningful involvement from Levandowski, who previously held a prominent position in the program.

Waymo's lawsuit contends that Levandowski in December 2015 downloaded more than 14,000 proprietary files from a highly confidential design server to a laptop and took the data with him to the startup. Unlike Uber, Lyft isn't working on its own self-driving auto technology, so a partnership with Waymo, which has nearly a decade of research under its belt, makes sense. "We welcome the order to prohibit Uber's use of stolen documents containing trade secrets developed by Waymo through years of research, and to formally bar Mr. Levandowski from working on the technology". Levandowski set up his own firms, which then were sold to Uber for $680 million.

Uber is now testing autonomous vehicles (with snags) in some cities.

Waymo is one of the market leaders when it comes to self-driving technology.

The world of self-driving vehicles has seen quite some interesting developments as of late.

"The evidence indicates that, during the acquisition, Uber likely knew or at least should have known that Levandowski had taken and retained possession of Waymo's confidential files", Alsup said in his ruling.

It's unusual for a judge to refer a civil suit for criminal review, according to former federal prosecutor William Portanova.

The ruling will hamper Uber's ability to develop a self-driving auto more quickly than Waymo, Coffee said, but it's too early to say if Uber will be crippled by the ruling.

Although the idea is in its infancy, it would help the city address issues like double-parked cars, blocked bike lanes and other pain points associated with ride-hailing companies, the Examiner reports. The U.S. Attorney's Office in San Francisco wouldn't confirm Monday whether it has opened an investigation.

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